As Philadelphia begins to recover from the lockdown and all of the changes we have become accustomed to during the pandemic, we can now reflect on the past 18 months and try to shed light on it despite the difficulties so many have endured Bring dark. What did we learn? What have we done differently and would it make sense to continue some of our pandemic modifications? How can we improve some of the injustices and barriers to accessing justice and legal services uncovered during COVID?
For public interest family lawyers representing domestic violence survivors, we were more concerned about the pandemic than the impact of COVID-19 on litigation and courts. We feared the pandemic was causing an increase in domestic violence and we were concerned about how survivors would reach us while they might be stuck at home with their perpetrators. How would they know when and where to seek protection or custody during the pandemic? How would protection orders and notifications be delivered? How would the roughly 85% of litigants who can’t afford lawyers show up in virtual hearings or even know how to file pleadings while the physical building remains closed?